Graphic designer and Medford resident Leanne Zinkand always has loved great stories. The lore of sunken ships anchors her first title, "Spaghetti Afterlife," a coming-of-age tale that speaks to the fear of life's unknowns.
Self-published by Silver Lining Press and available at Amazon.com and on Zinkand's website (www.ljzinkand), the book was released just before the centennial anniversary of the infamous April 15, 1912, sinking of the Titanic.
The book's main character, Julia Lloyd, lives with her family on New York's Long Island Sound. Faced with her father's alcoholic past and the fear he will return to his old ways after taking his first drink in 15 years, Julia becomes almost obsessed with shipwrecks and maritime lore.
The book's title is a nod to family "spaghetti night," when Julia's dad decided to have a drink of wine with his dinner. Symbolic of her foundering home life, young Julia's swim in Long Island Sound leads to a gripping fear of sunken ships being resurrected beneath her. Navigating life's often rocky waters, Julia becomes a church organist, hoping to emulate literature's Captain Nemo as she navigates coming of age. Zinkand's website describes the turning point in the book.
"When her father takes a drink after a 15-year hiatus, revealing his struggle with alcoholism, her world begins to list. Accompanied by a cast of droll, often outrageous characters, Julia embarks on a series of cross-country maneuvers through late-20th-century pop culture as a musician on a quest to salvage her self-esteem and disrupt her attraction to destructive, alcoholic lovers."
Already working on her second book, the 59-year-old Zinkand has loved writing and storytelling since she was young. Born in Iowa, Zinkand grew up on New York's Long Island Sound, where a portion of her book is based. In another parallel to the book, both "Julia" and Zinkand ventured west at various points in their lives.
Zinkand's migration led her to Mount Shasta, Calif., where she worked in graphic design before heading north to escape shoveling snow. A sucker for happy endings, Zinkand says both she and her character end up living happily ever after.
For Zinkand, that's on the outskirts of Phoenix with her teen-love-interest-turned-husband, Wayne Zinkand.
"We lost touch for 36 years, and he found me on Classmates.com," Zinkand says.
A new volunteer at Phoenix's Darkwing Manor haunt last Halloween, Zinkand portrayed a "Victorian zombie" and hopes to return this fall. Whether she's storytelling, creating graphics like the one on her new book or enjoying her hobbies of skiing, akido and Bikram yoga, Zinkand says she's an "up-for-just-about-anything" kind of gal.
"I love to have fun and try different things," she says, noting that she hopes her willingness to tackle tough topics like alcoholism will help readers remember to find humor and strength in life's ups and downs.
"Even the zombie thing, like writing, was appealing to me because it was more fantasy and more storytelling," she says.
"Growing up in my family, when things got too serious, someone would always crack a joke. I always go into something wondering how much fun can I have, and if I get to do some good, that's even better."
Buffy Pollock is a freelance writer living in Medford. Email her at firstname.lastname@example.org.